Eliminate Small Decisions

A small decision is something trivial:

  • What to have for breakfast
  • What to wear
  • When to begin work
  • When to take your lunch break
  • Etc.

Many of these small decisions can be automated and routinized by deciding in advance… thus, effectively removing them as unique decisions you have to make every single day.

By automating your small decisions and eliminating them from your life, you can save your much-needed energy in order to allow for a greater capacity to focus on the bigger decisions of your day-to-day life and the more challenging problems you are trying to solve.

“You can’t be going through the day distracted by trivia.”

Years ago, in an interview with Vanity Fair, President Obama shared why he would only wear gray or blue suits:

You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits. I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make. You need to focus your decision-making energy.

You need to routinize yourself. You can’t be going through the day distracted by trivia.

Eliminate Small Decisions

Some favorite games at “Casa Blanca”

Back in December, several people got Covid at my boys’ school, and so everyone ended up with a 4-week-long holiday break over December and January. And so, with our boys home for a month solid, we spent a lot of time playing games over the holidays. We are a gaming family anyway, but we definitely got into some new ones.

Here are some of our favorites right now:

  • Root: This is the top game at our house right now (thanks, Mike!). It feels like Settlers of Catan meets Risk. This is definitely more advanced and in-depth — thus my younger two boys (5 and 8) struggle and I usually have to help them with their turns, but they love the gameplay anyway. My 10 yo is great at it and quickly picked up the mechanics and strategy.

  • Skyjoe: Perfect for casual game night with anyone at just about any age.

  • Bang: This has been our family favorite for a several years now. There are several expansion packs as well, and about once every six months we will get a new expansion.

  • Bananagrams: We will often sneak in a round of Bananagrams before bedtime, or during lunch.

  • Crew: If you like card games such as hearts, spades, etc. Then you’ll enjoy this.

  • (Bonus) Dominion: This is a deck-building card game that my family got into back before we all started having kids. We got so many of the expansion decks that I had to build my own custom card box. Anyway… we haven’t played it in ages, but listing out all these other games reminded me how much fun Dominion is.

Some favorite games at “Casa Blanca”

A Non-Zero Life

There is an idea about habits and routines that you always want a non-zero day.

A non-zero day means a day where you do something — just so long as you don’t do nothing: Do at least one push-up, floss at least one tooth, write for at least 1 minute, etc.

The value of a non-zero day is that it keeps your momentum always moving forward. As anyone who knows about building habits, long-term consistency is everything.

A few days ago, the thought occurred to me about having more than just a non-zero day — but rather, a Non-Zero Life.

A Non-Zero Life means building simple-but-healthy habits you can do every day that impact every area of your life: Your career, your health, your relationships, your money, your inner-personal life…

Don’t let one of these areas slip away.

This is kinda what the idea behind Hal Elrod’s book, Miracle Morning, is about. A Miracle Morning is when you do a little bit of everything all before 8am.

I also love Sarah Peck’s idea of having a daily recipe that consists of the few things that, if done, make for a good day.

One reason I like the idea behind a Non-Zero Life is that it keeps you from coasting in any area.

Coasting means you are not taking action. And, thus, you are, by nature: (a) going downhill; (b) living off the momentum of your past effort; or (c) being pulled / pushed along by someone else.

A Non-Zero Life

Thinking in Bets

Last week I began reading Annie Duke’s fantastic book, Thinking in Bets.

First takeaway so far is this:

Do not equate the quality of a decision with the result of that decision.

For example: If you decided to drive home drunk and you happen to make it home safely, nobody would say that the “positive outcome” means you made a “good decision” in that scenario.

Yet, we so often apply “hindsight bias” to our decisions: We look back at the decisions which resulted in a poor outcome as being bad decisions and the decisions with a positive outcome as being good decisions.

And so, start to separate the quality of your decisions with the results of those decisions. Then, learn how to get better at making good decisions more often.

Thinking in Bets